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    Illini Drop Inv. Opener to #11 Virginia Tech, 1-0
    Niki Read led the squad today with three shots

    Niki Read led the squad today with three shots

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    WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The Fighting Illini kicked off the Wake Forest Invitational this evening with a hard fought 1-0 loss to #11 Virginia Tech at the Spry Soccer Stadium. The Hokies take the victory in the first ever encounter between these two programs as they remain undefeated at 7-0-0 as Illinois moves to 3-2-1 on the year. 

    "A lackluster start on a hot day doomed us early," said interim head coach Jeff Freeman. "While we responded well, we have to be better from the first whistle to the last."

    Virginia Tech got on the board in the eighth minute with a Shannon Mayrose goal that started with a corner kick. Mayrose, the Hokies current goals and points leader, was standing at the top of the six yard box and deflected a shot in by Julia Goldsworthy who was credited with the assist. 

    Two minutes later, Illinois registered their first couple of shots of the game with strikes by Niki Read and Marissa Holden. Hokies goalkeeper Dayle Colpitts, in just her second start of the year, was forced to make her second and third saves of the season. Freshman Nicole Breece recorded her first shot at the 24-minute mark, applying more pressure to the junior goalkeeper.  

    Virginia Tech kept the Illini defense busy in the first half in terms of set pieces. The Hokies earned seven corner kicks in the first 31 minutes of the match but only achieved one shot on goal. Virginia Tech would finish the first period with five total shots. 

    Illinois would tie Virginia Tech's first half shots total, thanks to some late offensive pressure. Megan Pawloski's shot in the 43rd minute was blocked by a defender followed by Niki Read's shot 30 seconds later that went wide left. The Orange and Blue finished the first period with more shots on goal, leading the Hokies 3-1.

    Virginia Tech zoomed right out of the gate in the second half, as Anne Lumpkin tallied a shot that went wide left just 37 seconds in.  Three minutes later the Hokies earned their ninth corner kick of the contest. 

    Illinois built some scoring chances around the 56-minute mark when Pawloski hit her second shot of the match wide right, but a couple of offside calls stalled the momentum. 

    The Illini defense would not allow a shot on goal in the half until the 67th minute, when Steph Panozzo recorded her first and only save of the match. 

    The Orange and Blue earned their first corner kick in the 71st minute but could not place a shot on goal in the play that followed. Furthermore, the Illini earned a second corner in the 84th minute but was caught offside on the ensuing play. 

    The Illini nearly tied it in the last 20 seconds but Niki Read's blast soared just over the crossbar. Illinois finished the contest with seven shots, three on goal, compared to Virginia Tech's 14 shots with just two on goal. 

    "We still need to do a better job looking to play with more purpose every time we have possession of the ball," said Freeman. "Too many poor decisions and technical mistakes caused us to defend much more than was necessary."

    Illinois will play their second game of the Wake Forest Invitational against the host team, the Demon Deacons, this Sunday at 1 p.m. CT. The Illini will once again have the opportunity to take down a ranked opponent for Wake Forest is currently No. 17 in the nation. 

    In addition, Illini junior standout Vanessa DiBernardo, along with Coach Janet Rayfield, will be competing for the U-20 World Cup Title Saturday morning at 5:20 a.m. CT at the Tokyo National Stadium. The matchup between the U.S. and Germany will be broadcast live on ESPNU and ESPN3. 

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